Aug 2, 2013


i'm totally copying my friend tracy's idea to make this month awesome, like she did for the month of july.  there is an actual website for this "movement" - - started by a group of awesome-seeking ladies who post their adventures and experiences.  the key is to do or recognize something awesome every day.  while i wish i had the time/money/courage to do crazy things every day this month like jumping out of an airplane, i want to use this idea to motivate myself to try new stuff and appreciate the little awesome things that happen on their own.  so, here we go.  30 (actually 31 because it's august but i want to stay with the theme) of awesome.

day 1 - august 1:  this may seem a little silly to some, but i recently paid off my car and on the first day of this month i received my car title in the mail.  i'm officially a car-owner.  it feels SO good to have that thing paid off.  now let's hope i can continue to drive it for many years. 

day 2 - august 2:  yesterday i was invited to attend a cubs rooftop game with a company that supports the organization i work for.  it was a great time and my first rooftop, which amazes me since i've lived in chicago for 9 years and have attended many cubs games.  great weather, food, drinks, good people.  cubs lost but it was still awesome!

Aug 17, 2012

pizza! pizza! (sorta, sorta)

well hello any of you who are reading this after one of my long absences from blogging!  lots has been going on in the last few months.  i've moved in with the bf, been accepted to grad school (starting 8/27!  eek!), and have started going to a personal trainer.  i'm sure there will be future blogs on all of these topics, but what inspired me to blog tonight was - yup, you guessed it - food.  i've been back on weight watchers (yes, again) for about 2 months now, have started working out with a trainer once a week and am happy to report that as of yesterday i am down 10.6 lbs!  i haven't felt too deprived because i still allow myself certain treats (read: wine) and have found a great resource in gina from skinnytaste.  her blog has given me so many great recipes and options for healthy cooking that i've been able to change up what i make without getting sick of things or feeling like i'm eating "diet" food.  

unfortunately, there has been one craving that simply refuses to go away.  pizza.  yummy, sinful, point-laden pizza has been on my mind for weeks now.  i did allow myself some pizza during the weekend the bf and i moved but that was an exception because frankly we were too tired and annoyed to bother cooking.  since then i've been wanting to have it again but self has vetoed me.  for once, i'm glad her bossy ass was able to overrule me.  i was perusing pinterest, aka biggest time suck known to modern woman, and ran across a few pins of cauliflower pizza crusts.  because i'm dying for pizza, i figured i'd give it a go tonight and see exactly how this cauliflower crust measures up.  the result - omg.  i made it tonight and it was SO good.  i'll tell you up front that it doesn't taste like a regular pizza crust but it is pretty tasty and gives you a great base for all of those yummy toppings without all the guilt.  

i adapted a recipe found on to be a little more ww point-friendly.  here is my version:

1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
2/3 cup shredded fat-free mozzarella cheese
2 egg whites
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic salt (next time i might replace this with sea salt since i used more crushed garlic than the original recipe called for, but we'll see)
1 T chopped fresh basil
fresh ground pepper to taste

rice the raw cauliflower (i used a hand grater because i don't have the right blade for my food processor), cook in microwave for 8 minutes, stirring halfway through.  let cauliflower cool and squeeze water from it.  mix cauliflower with mozzarella and egg whites.  add garlic, spices and basil.  pat evenly on baking sheet, bake at 450 for 15 minutes.  top with your choice of toppings, return to oven and broil a few minutes until cheese melts.  note:  i would line the sheet with foil and spray some cooking spray on it before spreading the dough.  i sprayed the pan and the crust stuck quite a bit when it was baked directly on it.  next time i will go straight for the foil. easier clean-up, too!

it started out great.  i decided to separate the "dough" into two portions because i wanted to make two different single serving pizzas.  here are the ingredients i prepared for my pizza feast:

because of the problem i had with the crust sticking to the baking sheet, it looked like this when i scraped it off the pan:

i almost tossed it in the garbage and chalked it up to a pinterest failure, but then i tasted a bit of the crust and decided i had to salvage it.  this crust is good enough to just eat on its own!  so i tried to press it back together on the baking sheet (lined with foil this time) and it actually wasn't too bad.  here are the pizzas bc (before cheese):

and after:

i brushed both crusts with a little garlic and basil infused olive oil (only 1/2 T total) and then topped each differently.  on the left is a version of my absolute favorite pizza from pizza express in london - the padana.  it consists of caramelized onions, spinach, red onion and goat cheese. yum. yum. yum.  the pizza on the right has spinach, sliced garlic, tomatoes, chicken and fat free mozzarella.  that's right - i decided to eat 2 kinds of onions and a ton of garlic tonight.  my poor bf.  each pizza was about 5 inches in diameter.  i had to eat this with a fork because the crust was a little soft.  i think if i do a better job of squeezing the water out of the cauliflower before baking next time it will be a little crisper. i also noticed that the leftover pieces were solid enough to pick up and eat by hand so letting the pizza sit for a few minutes before serving could help, as well.

because i'm such a piglet, i forgot to take pics of the finished pies and only have the leftovers to show:

since goat cheese and fat-free mozzarella don't really melt like other cheese, they don't look that different from the pre-broiled pics above.  one or more of those leftover pieces may have also disappeared between the photo and the time this blog was written 2 hours later.  don't judge me.  

a nice arugula salad with cherry tomatoes and shaved parmesan cheese completed the meal:

ok, i'm lying.  the salad was great but a glass of wine would have really completed the meal!  alas, i did not imbibe tonight but will pair this with some vino next time.  i will definitely be making this again.  it's so nice to know i have a healthy pizza alternative now!  

Feb 29, 2012

we don't need no stinkin' hashbrowns!

i ran across this recipe via pinterest and HAD to try it.  i found one of the best substitutes for a delicious, carb-loaded, cheesy dish that i feel guilty even thinking about, much less eating.  my friends, i have discovered a comparable substitute for hasbrown casserole thanks to dandy dishes and pinterest.  here's the lowdown - the hashbrown casserole recipe i have calls for hashbrowns (duh), sour cream, lots of cheese, butter, cream of mushroom soup, etc.  put it all together and you have a solid 6 hours on the treadmill to work off a serving.  it's been ages since i've had hashbrown casserole and had filed it away under "recipes i should never eat again but probably will if given the chance".  when i ran across the sub recipe on pinterest i was a little skeptical.  it calls for using spaghetti squash, which i love, love, love, but i wasn't sold on it 100%.  tonight i decided to experiment.  the original recipe from dandy dishes is as follows:

Spaghetti Squash Au GratinServes 6
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place in a covered dish with a ¼ inch of water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes. In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and transfer to a small bowl. Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and half the cheese together and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining cheese.

Place into a 375ยบ for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.
here's a pic of my version:
as it is, each serving equals 4 weight watchers plus points.  when i made it tonight, i revised the recipe a little and found that substituting low fat cheddar, fat free sour cream and cooking spray (instead of butter) made this tasty side come out to 1 little WW+ point per serving!  it's so good and really satisfies any craving for something cheesy and rich.  i'm excited to try variations of this, perhaps with less cheddar and a little blue cheese, or add mushrooms and other veg to make it more of a casserole... the possibilities are endless. 
you're welcome.  :)

Feb 3, 2012


in the seemingly never-ending effort to eat healthy, i've been scouring pinterest for yummy recipe ideas.  i ran across a great food blog called skinny taste a while ago but have just recently cooked a couple of things from it.  spurred on by adam's love of this blog i made a chicken dish last weekend and a shrimp dish last night.  the chicken dish turned out ok and i would probably make it again with a few minor changes.  the shrimp dish, on the other hand, was great!  the original recipe (and much prettier picture of the food)  can be found here.  mine looked like this:

i modified the recipe slightly, using smaller shrimp and adding mushrooms.  i also like to substitute spaghetti squash for pasta, which helps tremendously with the carbs and weight watchers points, and it worked great with this dish. 

i calculated the points in weight watchers and it comes out to 5 WW+ points instead of 9 when you use the spaghetti squash.  not knowing how much this recipe would yield, i assumed 4 servings, but i think this was more like 6 or 7 - it makes a ton! - so the points may be even lower.  regardless, a huge serving of 5 point yumminess makes me happy!  the bf loved it, too, and hoovered down two big bowls.  lucky for me i have leftovers!

this recipe is definitely a keeper.  it does give a little kick with the amount of red pepper it calls for, so if you don't like spicy you may want to cut it down or omit it all together.  i think next time i will also saute the shrimp in garlic instead of just olive oil. 

looking forward to more skinny taste recipes!

Jan 17, 2012

my new obsession

on saturday, the bf and i joined a few of his friends at a great little place called bottle and bottega.  i had actually bought my mom a gift certificate to use here the next time she and my dad make a trip to chicago, so i was very excited to try it out.  the concept of bottle and bottega is to provide a fun, non-threatening atmosphere for people to try out their painting skills.  you can register for a public event (which is what we did), but they also offer private parties.  it's byob, so you bring your bottle and they provide the space, paint, canvasses, etc. as well as an instructor to walk you through the process of recreating whatever work of art has been chosen for that day.  painters of all levels are welcome and it's great for beginners.

so we showed up with our bottles, donned our aprons and settled in for an evening of painting and drinking.  i admit, i was a little nervous at first.  i have never considered myself artistic in the least, so the idea of me recreating a painting done by a real artist seemed on par with hell freezing over.  but, i was willing to give it a shot and figured between the bf and i, we would at least have two lovely paintings resembling what we would see on the walls of the local elementary school.

for three hours, we filled our glasses and painted along with our instructor's direction while we chatted and listened to fun music.  here is how my painting progressed:

the sketch.....

painting the background....

there were a lot more steps between step 2 and this, but here is my finished painting....

i have to admit, i was very pleasantly surprised with how my painting turned out.  having never picked up a paintbrush before - except for maybe paint by number projects when i was a kid - i didn't really expect much so i was pleased with my results.  it was really fun and i left b&b wanting to paint more. 

yesterday i was at michael's looking for a few things and happened to wander down the paint aisle.  you know where this is going.  i came home with a table top easel, a beginner set of acrylics and brushes, 2 canvasses and a painter's pallet.  i'm dying to set up and try my hand at another painting.  i have a ton to learn but i think i may have found a hobby that i'm really going to enjoy, regardless of whether my skill level every improves.  so in keeping with my theme for 2012, i am going to enjoy painting and am looking forward to taking my mom to b&b this spring/summer!

Jan 10, 2012


it's taken me a while but i've decided on my word for 2012 - enjoy.  so often i think to myself, "if i can just get through this week" or "next month will be better", etc.  i feel like i tend to wish away my days, - working to meet a deadline at work, hoping to get through a difficult meeting, looking forward to the next payday - and fail to enjoy each day as it happens, even if nothing major or particularly joyful occurs. 

i remember when i was a kid thinking my parents were crazy when they used to comment about how quickly time goes by.  i just wanted to be older, have more freedom and be an adult.  now that i'm an adult, i'm already looking back and wondering where the last several years have gone and pondering how time will most likely seem to speed up as i get older.  of course, with age comes responsibility and all of the things that make our days slip by unnoticed because we're so busy, stressed and worn out.  i guess i can only speak for myself, but i know i'm guilty of that, anyway.

so 2012 is my year to enjoy.  i want to be sure to enjoy things about each day - snuggling with my kitty, spending time with friends and the bf, pausing to be proud of myself when a project at work goes well, appreciating this great city i live in, etc.  here's to a year of enjoyment!

Jan 2, 2012

one little word - 2011 in review

last year about this time i posted about choosing one word to focus on as my theme for the upcoming year.  the word for 2011 was commit, as in "commit to getting healthy, commit to furthering my career path, commit to trying new things and commit to strengthening important relationships, etc."  so how did my year of committing work out?  let's see....

i do feel that i did better with my overall health (though i can't seem to lose any weight!).  i eat pretty healthy in general and feel i've done a better job over the past 12 months than any other year in working out consistently.  i completed my first 5k last spring and have been working out 3-6 times a week.  the bf ended up getting a membership to the indoor tennis center, so i've been fortunate to have the option to play tennis 1-2 times a week even though the lovely chicago weather doesn't typically allow for outside play after september. 

i think i've also been able to strengthen some of the relationships in my life.  i already had a great group of friends and very close ties with my family, but i think the one relationship that really grew was the one with the bf.  not to get sappy or cheesy, but we're in a great place and i've been really happy with him this past year. 

as for the career path, well....  that's an area that i would still like to focus on for 2012.  i'm sure there are things i could/should be doing to improve my skills and expertise, so i need to put a little more attention toward that this year. 

trying new things.... hmmm....  i did travel to a new country (spain), did the 5k (yes, i mentioned it already but it was new for me!), and have tried to experiment with new foods and healthy recipes.  i got a facial for the first time (what a treat!) and learned how to be a responsible pet owner.  none of the new things are earth shattering, but they were new to me.

all in all, i'd say 2011 was a pretty good year and i'm looking forward to 2012.  i'm still deciding what my word will be, but i'll post it soon!